Many event planners are embracing the engagement benefits of adding more extensive AV to their programs. But without strong preparation, and knowing what to expect, many shows fall flat. Don’t let that to happen to you and your event. It’s essential that you understand the audio visual process behind the magic of show day and map a strategy accordingly.
What is Involved in Amazing Audio Visual Production?
A great AV experience does two things:
- Meets the goals of the event
- Exceeds the expectations of your audience
Any award-winning AV company will want to understand your event objectives. From building an audience to improving ticket sales, being clear about your overall business strategy is the best way to create an effective partnership that will help you attain your event goals.
But goal attainment doesn’t do much for your audience.
You want to give them an experience beyond their expectations. You don’t want them to be satisfied by your event. You want them to marvel.
So how do you do that?
Follow these critical components of audio visual production, of course.
Critical Components of Audio Visual Production: Leading Up to the Event
Before the day of the show, you want several things in place including a site survey, an understanding of what you’ve signed up for, and baseline measurements to track goals against.
What few people realize is that when working with a venue with its own AV equipment, there may be fixed locations and limitations that only a site survey can diagnose. A professional AV team will take a look at the space, understand the decor, and decide what you need and how much is accounted for. If the venue hasn’t invested in AV equipment in recent times, an AV company will be able to offer the most cutting-edge technology.
During the site visit, the AV company will speak with the venue on a variety of subjects including addressing electricity needs for power distribution. In most production cases, wall plugs just aren’t enough. They will also make note of critical components of your AV needs such as how the ceiling height can impact the design. You may have a wonderful vision in your head with aerial entertainment and other ‘wow!’ moments but having an AV company verify these things are feasible is a must.
Placing the audio visual company in contact with the venue allows them to sort out their specific needs. Don’t leave this as an afterthought. Smooth-running AV requires planning and lead time.
Now that you’ve had your location assessed and a plan has been put into place in accordance with your venue, it’s important to understand some of the specifics your audio visual partner may be speaking to you about.
Understand What You’ve Signed Up For
AV production companies are not all the same and some of their terminologies can be baffling. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of your partnership:
Drop-and-Go versus Execution
There are several different types of AV rental companies. Some drop-and-go, others plan-and-execute. A drop and go company is merely renting you the equipment. You’ll need to designate someone on your team to run it the day of the event. AV companies with this sort of contract will set everything up and then it’s up to you to make the magic happen. Other AV companies assign a person (or a team) who will be on show site to handle everything the day of the event. There’s a big difference in the costs of these services so be clear about which one you want and which kind you’ve paid for.
Keep in mind that most companies, including drop and go’s, will require a minimum time allotment. Even if your set up tech only takes an hour, you would be charged for four if that is the company minimum. Be sure you understand any contractual minimums.
A Person or a Team
Consider all the different production areas for your event and whether you need a dedicated AV technician for each. For example, can one person handle the whole show? Do you have simultaneous AV needs as in the case of breakout rooms? If you do, a team will serve you much better than a single person who will have to run back and forth frantically. The bigger and more complex your AV production, the more team members you will need specifically dedicated to sound, lighting and visuals.
Consult Your Entertainment and Presenters
Some event planners assume that acts handle their own AV needs and some actually do. But if you don’t ask, you won’t know and that will make for very lackluster performances. Ensure you speak with your entertainers and presenters about their AV needs and be clear with them about what they can expect.
Know the Language
Audio visual services are complex and there’s an industry language that may be different than what you’re used to. A good audio visual production company will help you understand their suggestions and tools but doing some background research can help. Familiarize yourself with AV production terms for a better understanding of your costs.
Ask About Overtime Fees
Another important thing to understand is the overtime fees and when they start. Often, overtime fees are not mentioned in the agreement but it’s important to know what they are in case your team goes over the allotted time.
To avoid this, some companies will place someone on your event for a few hours and then replace them with someone else. If you want the same crew the whole time, it’s likely you’ll be paying overtime.
Think About How You’ll Use AV
Be specific about how your presenters will host sessions, the size of your audience and room, and other in-depth pieces about your event. This will help your audio visual partner walk you through choosing the right screen, mic, projector, etc. It’s important to realize that there’s specific technology that works best with specific uses such as tools for video streaming and live presentations.
Talk over whether you need items like a Direct Box and audio mixer and how many speakers make sense for your room. This is not something you’re expected to know or request but if you work with your AV company on a site survey and you explain the details behind your sessions and entertainment, they can recommend the tech best-suited for your event – helping you avoid wasteful spending.
Perform a Walk-through
When your event gets closer, you’ll want to perform an AV walk-through. Make sure you do so in time enough that any changes you have can still be made.
- Ensure everyone and everything is there, including those who will introduce, speak or entertain and any video or live stream testers. A member of the AV team should be there as well.
- Take over the event room at least 24-48 hours earlier than your attendees will arrive. That gives you time to set up your AV, test it, and make necessary changes.
- If speakers refuse or are unable to do a walk-through, ask your AV team if they have specific questions for the speaker(s). Either put them in touch with one another or pass the questions and answers along. It’s important the AV crew knows how your speaker likes to present. They may have a mic preference, for instance. Learning that ahead of time will make everything go much smoother.
- Order any equipment you realize is missing.
Next, don’t forget to record where you are currently, from a goals perspective.
Goals and how they will be measured have been established for your event. But before the curtains part, it’s essential to take baseline measurements of where you are that day. What you measure will be based on your event goals but make sure you gather the data beforehand. If you forget this critical step, you will have nothing from which to measure your success. That means your boss or client won’t be as effectively impressed as could’ve been possible. Don’t let your hard work go to waste. Don’t forget their ‘wow!’ moment too.
Master the AV Timeline
After you have completed your event prerequisites, it’s time to go over what event day should look like. Here are the AV tasks start to finish:
- Meet your AV person (or event producer) on show site early to ensure everything is ready. If you’re not using a person or team, test your AV system before attendees arrive.
- Go over a final list of needs and outstanding issues to make sure they are all resolved.
- Check aspect ratios and other small but critical things in your event presentations. For the love of your successful event, don’t forget to match up those cords ahead of time. Not having the correct power cord could leave you to make animal silhouettes with your hands as event entertainment!
- Greet speakers. Have them talk through the microphones, check their presentations, explain their walk-up and so forth. Ensure they are feeling relaxed and happy.
- Connect and test presenter laptops if anyone is using their own.
- Don’t allow attendees into the room until the system is ready to go. You don’t want to decrease the magic because they see what’s behind the scenes when they walk in.
- Place your backups in close proximity. This means additional laptops, cables, microphones, etc.
- Make sure that the AV setup includes a “switch” to enable you to swap back to a holding screen or backup device should anything fail or go awry, before anyone notices.
- Take a deep breath (or two).
- Draw back that curtain and welcome your group in. It’s time to wow them.
With good AV coordination, they won’t notice the behind-the-scenes work, just the magical end result.
Your AV production is more than just a microphone and a spot light. AV services can add depth and feeling to any presentation or event. Understanding the process behind the show’s production and tracking all the details along the way will help you create a much more streamlined, successful event.
Would you like to know more about AV planning? Download our free guide today.